MONTGOMERY (AP) — Alabama will revive more of its economy by letting entertainment venues, athletics and schools reopen Friday afternoon despite shaky progress in taming the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Kay Ivey announced new rules Thursday that allow casinos, tourist attractions, bowling alleys, youth sports practitices and arcades to resume along with schools, child care facilities and summer camps.
All remain subject to capacity, social-distancing and sanitation rules, she said.
Ivey acknowledged the state health officer’s assessment that “our numbers are not as good as we would hope” and that there are areas, including Montgomery, where a large number of hospitalizations is a concern.
“Today, however, is the next step in what has seemed like a long and difficult process of reopening our economy while at the same time remaining true to the belief, the fact, that y’all, this is a serious, deadly disease,” she said.
Societies function with other infectious viruses, and the state’s economy can’t remain on lockdown forever, Ivey said.
“Having a life means having a livelihood as well,” Ivey told a Capitol news conference. “You have to have a balance.”
The changes came as an Associated Press analysis of testing data from The COVID Tracking Project showed that, over the past 14 days, the situation in Alabama has gotten worse.
New daily cases have risen to 304 from 268, and the positivity rate of daily tests has increased from 6.7% to 7.6%. The AP used seven-day rolling averages to account for daily variability in the testing data. The data includes counts through May 20.
Dr. Scott Harris, the state health officer, said the rate of positive tests in the state has decreased by the state’s count. He added, however, that people are still “safer at home” despite the loosened restrictions.
More than 13,100 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, and 529 people have died.